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GTA new home sales jumped in September, as buyers came in from the sidelines

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Photo: James Bombales

September was a strong month for the GTA new condo market, thanks to a surge of buyer interest, according to the latest release from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

There were 1,747 new homes sold last month, up from August’s 974, with 1,494 new condos sold. Meanwhile, in keeping with the ongoing trend of month-over-month sales gains and year-over-year sales declines, sales were down 20 percent for September 2017. It was also a busy month for project launches, with 10 condos and seven single-family home developments opening, up from August’s two.

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“It appears more buyers — and builders — are starting to come in from the sidelines,” writes Patricia Arsenault, executive VP of data solutions for Altus Group, BILD’s source for new home information. “The increase from August in both new condominium apartment sales and the number of units in new projects launched was somewhat stronger than the typical September bump alone would suggest.”

As demand for units rose, so did prices. The benchmark price for a new condo jumped a whopping 19.4 percent year-over-year to $789,643 last month. There are currently 8,820 condo units on the market, representing 5 months worth of inventory. According to BILD, a healthy new home market should have nine to 12 months of supply.

“In the lead-up to the municipal elections, BILD succeeded in raising housing supply and affordability as major election issues,” writes David Wilkes, president & CEO of BILD, in a statement. “Some straightforward steps include making sure that government charges on new homes are fair, funding and building critical infrastructure, cutting red tape and speeding up building permits and inspections.”

The relative strength of the new condo market is echoed by the sales of luxury condos over the past year. Condos in the $1-2 million range saw a 2 percent sales bump in 2018, while prices soared. The most expensive condo sold in Toronto in 2018 so far went for $11.5 million, up from $8 million in 2017.

“Many Canadian Baby Boomers saw the strength of the real estate market over the past two years as an opportunity to cash-in, downsize and upgrade into the luxury market for retirement,” writes Christopher Alexander, executive VP of the RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Canada region, in a recent data release. “We’re also seeing an emerging trend of Millennials entering the lower end of the luxury condo market, as they tap into their inheritance to invest in this popular property segment.”

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New home? Prepare for the unexpected

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(NC) Buying a house, getting married or having your first baby are all major life events that are likely to affect your finances. But whether you’re in the midst of a major life event or not, it’s important to check in on your finances regularly to maintain good financial health.

Your financial health encompasses things like your spending, savings, borrowing and future financial plans. It also means dedicating a set amount of savings for unexpected future events. It can even include optional credit protection insurance, such as TD protection plans, to help cover your debt balances in case of death, a covered critical illness or total disability.

Even though it can be tough to think about the unexpected, life is unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Find more information at td.com.

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Mortgage pitfalls to avoid

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(NC) Throughout life, you may have moments where you’ll make a large purchase or invest in a costly item, like your family home. But whether you’re in the market for your first new property or already have a mortgage, leaving this asset unprotected can be costly.   

Insuring your housing financial debt, as well as debt for other big-ticket items like a new boat for your lakefront cottage or keepsake jewelry like an engagement ring, is a smart investment in your well-being.

To help protect your debt balances like a mortgage, your bank may have optional credit protection insurance products.

“Your home is one of your biggest assets, yet illness can happen at any stage of life. Worrying about your mortgage when the focus should be on health isn’t a situation anyone would wish for,” explains Shirley Malloy, vice president at TD. “Fortunately, we offer mortgage protection to provide coverage for your outstanding balance should you face a covered critical health event.”

Mortgage protection can be purchased whether you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or already have a home financing solution. But what about protection options for credit card debt?

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, many Canadians are trying to plan for the unexpected to protect themselves and their finances,” says Malloy. “TD balance protection plus is an optional product designed to help you deal with your credit card payment obligations in the event of a covered event, such as loss of employment.”

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Is your internet too slow? It’s probably not you

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(NC) We all know the aggravation of a school lesson that just won’t stop freezing or the family video call that looks more like a photo montage. And, as we adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day, that slow connection can have frustrating consequences.

Working from home and learning remotely, both need fast, stable internet, something not enough Canadians have yet. Even if you have fast devices in your home, if the infrastructure in your area is not optimal, your connection won’t be either.

Right now, cities have the infrastructure needed to ensure access. But rural and remote communities are hugely underserved, with fewer than half having high-speed internet, and fewer than a third of households on reservations have high-speed connections.

Fortunately, change is coming. The Universal Broadband Fund is backing projects across Canada right now to ensure the reliable, high-speed internet connections families need to work, study, access services online, and safely stay in touch with each other.

The fund existed before COVID, but as a response to the pandemic, its timetable has been moved up by four years to a target of 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet access by 2026. With the faster pace, at least 90 per cent of us should be connected by the end of 2021.

The fund is focused on improvements in rural and remote communities across Canada to fix the disconnect between internet access for urban and rural households.  This means more remote work opportunities, better access to remote learning and safer access to healthcare, no matter where you live.

It’s not just for good connections at home, either. The improvements mean much better access to mobile networks on highways between remote communities. The result is better, safer navigation and access to emergency services for your family, even on the road in the middle of nowhere. Mobile projects will be focused on serving Indigenous communities and the roads leading to them.

The shape these improvements will take in your area will depend on where you live. Canada is huge, and its communities are hugely diverse, with diverse needs. Keep an eye out for local projects — they’re a small part of something much bigger.

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